Movie producers Tim and Trevor White were born and raised in Annapolis and their movie “King Richard” premieres today.
The movie will be showing in movie theaters around the world and streaming on HBO Max. It is based on the true story of Venus and Serena Williams and their father Richard Williams training them to be the best tennis players. Annapolis Film Festival founders Patti White (Tim and Trevor’s mother) and Lee Anderson set up a special preview showing of the film in Annapolis earlier this month.
Trevor White talked to The Capital about the upcoming movie and how it was working with Will Smith, who starred in and co-produced the movie.
Why was it important to preview this movie for the hometown/Annapolis crowd?
Most of our formative years were spent in Annapolis and in a lot of ways our experiences created the drive that brought us all the way to LA and making movies. It is always nice to bring our work back to our hometown and screen it for friends and family. Second of all, it is an incredibly diverse city and I think a movie like this is one you can play for any and everyone. People can take important messages from it.
How will this movie impact viewers around the world?
I hope people leave the theater with is a little bit of inspiration and a dose of motivation. What this family has been able to accomplish is extraordinary and has been done with this push of love and an iron fist.
How was it trying to keep this movie as authentic as possible to their real lives?
We were fortunate to have Isha Price, one of the Williams sisters, on set every day. We really went to extraordinary efforts to make sure we were getting every little detail as authentic as possible.
How was it having the family be a part of this movie?
It was amazing and we couldn’t have dreamed up something better for the movie if we had tried. Having that direct feedback and direct knowledge firsthand of what it was like. We could pull a lot from what’s online since they have been in the public eye since kids but we really needed the family to tell us what it was like inside that bus with all five girls and what it was like at home eating dinner and in those early days living in Florida. That is all information we couldn’t get from interviews.
Do you all feel any pressure in portraying such iconic people?
Of course. We felt immense pressure to get this right. We are taking on the origin story of two of the most iconic women in the world. We wanted to make sure we were telling their story honestly and truthfully. They were our number one audience to make sure they were happy and that we served their story accurately.
You don’t often see tennis movies, so how was it trying to get the tennis to look and feel realistic?
Reinaldo Marcus Green, the director, said in an early meeting with us how he wanted to shoot the tennis. He made it clear that he didn’t want this movie to look like a Nike commercial or a Gatorade one. He wanted the camera to be in the background and let the tennis and emotions of what the characters are going through lead the way. So we never talked about cameras that fly over the net with the ball or these unrealistic camera positions. It was always about letting the action play out. Tennis is so rarely done in movies so we didn’t have a lot to look at. We had to create our own tennis language.
Your brother Tim White was a champion in tennis before, did that help out in the movie at all?
His experience immensely helped. Tim and Isha being on set every day focusing on the tennis portion really added a level of accuracy and tension to the sequences. They made it clear that they wanted to be able to show this movie to the tennis community and have them say they got it right and it looks real.
What are some things you all learned about the Williamses that you didn’t know before?
We learned how close they are, just how close that family unit is and how much love they have for each other. The thing that was surprising is Serena was in the shadows of Venus in those early years and Serena never had jealously for Venus. Serena wanted to be out there but they were never jealous of each other, they have been supportive of one another and that was surprising. How they were raised to be humble, to be supportive and to show love — these are things you don’t understand until you spend time with them.
From Annapolis to Hollywood, how has that transition been?
We have been in LA for many years working hard to make movies and have opportunities like this. It is not an easy industry but it is a rewarding one when you get opportunities like this.
Did the pandemic have any effect on the production of this movie ? And what was it like shooting through a pandemic?
We shot a majority of the movie during the pandemic. We shot three weeks before we were shut down and were shut down for like six or seven months. Then, we came back in a different world, under very different circumstances. It was the most challenging experience we ever had making a movie because of it. We had no choice but to adapt and learn the new ways and find a way to make sure the work wasn’t sacrificed.
How was it working with Will Smith?
He’s everything you think and hope he is, but better. He really is the most dedicated worker in the room but just the most uplifting, pleasant and joyful human I’ve been around. I can’t say enough good things about Will Smith.
Are there are any Easter eggs we should be on the lookout for during the movie?
I don’t know if I should point those out. There are some in there. Some cameos and some people involved in the making of the movie, that does make little extra appearances here and there. We will let the world find those out on their own.
What is next for the White brothers?
Our company, Star Thrower Entertainment, is continuing to grow. We have a movie coming out next week called “8-Bit Christmas” that will come out on HBO Max. It is a really charming family film that is great for adults and kids. We have a couple of movies we are gearing to start next year and we will go from there.